Article 8.1.1 of ICZN

Ron at Ron at
Thu Aug 1 00:32:50 CDT 2002

Steve Shattuck wrote:

> Here's a crazy thought.  How about setting up a taxonomic registration
> system and require all new names be submitted to it before they become
> available.

So would this mean that one would just "notify" the registration system
that they were creating a new name and this "notification" would
automatically put the name on an official list of available names?  Would
being listed on the list be the only factor that would then establish
availability?   If so, then it would not matter where said name was
published - comic book or scientific journal - it would only be a matter of
being submitted to the registration system and put on the List.

Are these names to be submitted to the List post publication?   By author
or publisher?  If so will the List just accept any name from any source or
will it first make a list (judgment) on who/what it will accept names from?
Would this not open the door for systematic censorship?  Political power

An examination of the actual workings of various scenarios would ultimately
lead us back to the exact system that is in place now.   In other words, if
any "judgments" are to be made or "qualification" required by the
registration system then we have nothing different than what we have now -
just another title.

In actuality what is being asked for here is not a "system" but a "record".
We already have a system to determine "availability".   What is wanted is a
single source accessable record of what these available names are.  The key
word then is "registration".   To be available the name would have to be
"registered" at the central registry.  Of course this wouldn't tell us
anything other than the fact that name X "officially" exists on a list.

The current system requires that new names meet criteria of publication.
It also requires that those new names which have met the qualifications of
publication _also_ meet several additional criteria before they can be
recognized as available names of taxonomic nomenclature.   Further, a name
that qualifies as published and available does not mean it is now valid.
More hoops must be jumped through to determine validity in application.
The taxonomists' goal is to find the valid name of each taxon - not just a
list of candidates (available names).

Just because a name "counts" as published
does not mean it "counts" as available.
And just because it "counts" as published and available
does not mean it "counts" as valid.

The fact is that the great majority of names that "count" as both published
and available do not count at all as valid.  Just look at any synonymic
check list.  So what good does it do to have a list of names that "count"
as available?   Very little.  One still has to  _find_ all the obscure
literature and go through all the original and subsequent papers (and Code
rules) to arrive at validity.

The ICZN (and I am sure the other codes) only lay out qualifications - of
nomenclature.  They do not then sit as judges (referees) on the taxonomic
and systematic applications of these names.  Dealing with millions of
organisms and naming and placing them in man made relational "ranks" and
"trees" is _enormously_ subjective.  Many of those who want to "simplify"
this down to tidy lists, indices, and "stable" nomenclature have no real
understanding of working systematics and nomenclature.  They are librarians
and list makers not systematists - in my view.

How is a "taxonomic registration system" going to deal with past and
present synonymy or homonymy?  It's not.  If a person can't stand blood and
guts they shouldn't become doctors and nurses.  Likewise, those who want to
be systematic taxonomists need to know in advance that they will have to
deal with the messy world of nomenclature.   It comes with the job.  Having
a nice neat list of all available names of all biota would do very little
toward helping the researcher in the placement and application of those
names.  There will never be a systematists' Nomencaltural Slide Ruler

Ron Gatrelle

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